J. J. Gasparotti, engineer, train fan


John J. Gasparotti III, a retired electrical engineer and railroad fan, died June 23 of cancer at his home in Vienna, Va. He was 74.

He retired in 1982 from the Mitre Corp. of McLean, Va., after a 35-year career with the defense contractor. An electrical and systems engineer, he had worked on such projects as the development of the Polaris missile and intrusion sensors for NATO.

Born in Collinsville, Ill., he moved as a youngster to Moberly, Mo., when his father, a refrigeration engineer, took a position with an ice company.

"When we were boys, we used to play in the Wabash Railroad yard there -- our parents weren't too happy about it -- and that's where he developed his tremendous lifelong interest in railroad

ing," said Paul A. Gasparotti, a brother, of Baltimore. "He was very knowledgeable about the technology of steam locomotives, which he liked."

His brother said Mr. Gasparotti collected European and American model railroad equipment, was a member of the National Model Railroad Association and had ridden the Trans-Siberian Railroad. He also had a large library devoted to the subject.

After serving in the Army in World War II, during which he built radar installations in Germany, he returned to St. Louis to earn a bachelor's degree from Washington University and a master's degree from St. Louis University.

He and his wife, the former Leah Brooks, whom he married in 1966, enjoyed traveling and had visited all 50 states and 100 foreign countries. He also was a patron of the Washington Ballet and collected books on military history and weaponry.

In addition to his wife and brother, survivors include a son, John J. Gasparotti IV of Laguna Beach, Calif.; a daughter, Lauryl Sabaroff of San Jose, Calif.; another brother, Richard Gasparotti of Boise, Idaho; a sister, Ann Felter of Pampa, Texas; four nephews; and five nieces.

Memorial donations may be made to the Hospice of Northern Virginia, 6400 Arlington Blvd., Suite 1000, Falls Church, Va. 22042, or the Washington Ballet, 3515 Wisconsin Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016.

Services were held June 25 in Virginia.

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